In 2004, Chris Anderson wrote an interesting article on a concept referred to as the "Long Tail." The long tail is basically the products and services that have lost their "sale" ability within a geographical area. One of my favorite books on personal marketing was published in 1997 titled The Persona Principle: How to Succeed in Business with Image Marketing by Derek Armstrong and Kam wai Yu. You would be hard-pressed to locate this book in any bookstore, and even Amazon has it ranked number 1,140,052. Online retailers can carry a much larger inventory than physical stores, which allow them to generate more sales along the long tail of popularity.
For example, Barnes and Noble carries 120,000 titles while Amazon.com boasts 2.3 million titles. The obvious reason is that shelf space inside Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and Books-A-Million is limited and these organizations only have so much real estate to display their products to the customer. This physical constraint forces organizations to focus their marketing and promotion on the top-selling items. Online organizations do not carry shelf costs and, therefore, an additional item is simply an update to the online catalog. The advancements in technologies such as search, social software and product comparison sites allow for more fragmented channels and niche products. Interestingly, 57 percent of the sales at Amazon.com come from titles not available at your local book store. This phenomenon seems to be true from books to application software. Figure 1 presents a view of how this framework can be applied to the world of metadata. Instead of utilizing popularity and sales, we can use reusability and quantity to create our two dimensional model.
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